NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Last year, 127 handguns were found in Tennessee public schools, which is an 111% increase from before the pandemic, according to the Tennessee Safe Schools report.
“It is just despicable to me that we had Covenant happen, and that we continue to have these handguns show up in schools,” said Paige La Grone Babcock, a Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher.
According to a recently published Tennessee Comptroller report, over the last year the General Assembly has invested more than $240 million in school safety.
The report was an analysis of what has changed regarding school security provisions during the last legislative session and the recent special session.
In addition to allocating more money toward school resource officers and behavioral health professionals, the report noted there are a number of different requirements for schools.
There are now requirements for new penalties for school doors not being locked; schools must submit their safety plans every year and schools must have threat assessment teams.
Lawmakers also revised active shooter training requirements for armed security guards.
However, despite these changes, La Grone Babcock is mainly focused on guns.
“I took a student with me [to the statehouse] two days after Covenant,” she recalled. “A young man who was in the sixth grade, who literally told me that he didn’t feel safe at school anymore. And he didn’t feel safe anywhere.”
Metro police 20 guns were stolen from cars in Davidson County last week, while 953 have been stolen so far this year.
La Grone Babcock said she has seen her own neighbors’ cars broken into and their guns stolen.
“I don’t say that that should excuse the children entirely, but we’re not setting the kind of example….we’re not setting the boundaries that teach the things that we want the very best citizens of our city to be about,” she said.
When children find these guns, either in cars or in their homes and bring them to school, La Grone Babcock fears what harm an armed and emotional child is capable of inflicting.
“I can’t stop fighting because I have to hear this kid ask again and again, ‘Why aren’t you doing something?'” she said.
At the start of the school year, Dr. Adrienne Battle, the director of schools for MNPS, said they have added more security cameras, upgraded school resource officer’s communication equipment, and are bringing new technology to schools to help with weapons detection.